10 Reasons Why Parrots Bite (and How to Stop It)


Imagine waking up to find your arm covered in blood because your pet parrot decided it wanted to chew on you. That might be a little more than you bargained for when you signed up for the responsibility of owning a pet bird, but unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence with many parrots.

Parrots are very intelligent creatures and can become frustrated over a variety of factors around them.

This blog post will give you five reasons why birds bite and how to stop them from biting so that both you and your feathered friend can live happily ever after!divider-birdcage

1. Parrots Bite for Attention

Parrot Bite Hand
Image Credit: 4506458, Pixabay

Parrots are brilliant beings with the intelligence level of a toddler. Just like an over-indulged two-year-old, they can become frustrated if they do not get enough attention and may resort to biting to get some attention from you.

Many parrots were hand-raised by their owners, which is a great way to start them off, but it also means that some parrots have become a little too comfortable with the presence of people.

Parrots are very social creatures and look to their owners as flock members. If they do not receive enough positive attention from you, they may try to get your attention in other ways, such as biting.

Solution

The best thing to do when your parrot bites you is to remove any attention from him. Do not give your favorite birdie one bit of attention when he uses his beak to hurt you because even if it was an accident, positive reinforcement only encourages more biting.

Try putting your parrot in a cage or somewhere that’s out of sight for the time being, as a sort of time out.


2. Parrots Bite When They’re Scared

Parrots are not the best at expressing their emotions, so you may think that your feathered friend is angry with you when he’s actually scared.

If your parrot bites when he’s scared but then stops and seems to fly away fine after a few hours, it may be due to his friendly nature and desire to avoid confrontation.

Many birds just want to avoid conflict, but this can get your relationship into a lot of trouble. You must pay attention to the warning signs and change your ways before your parrot gets too scared.

Scared parrots may bite because they feel threatened, cornered, or confined without easy means of escape. Parrots are very reactive animals in general, so if they have to react quickly to what they perceive as a threat to protect themselves, you may end up with a scar or two.

Solution

Take measures to avoid putting your parrot into situations where his fear response is triggered; for example, keep him out of high traffic areas in your home. If he does bite out of fear, try to comfort your parrot and remove him from the situation.

Parrots may bite out of defense if they feel threatened, so you must be careful not to corner them; keep a generous amount of space between yourself and your pet if they’re anxious.


3. Parrots Bite When They Have Learned It From You

Parrot owners may have unintentionally trained their birds to bite by reinforcing biting behavior with attention.

For example, a person who tries to remove a chewing bird from his shoulder and gets bit may laugh it off because he thinks that the parrot’s bite is “cute” or “harmless.” In reality, this owner is teaching his pet that biting is acceptable behavior.

Parrots are intelligent animals and learn by mimicry, which means that they will copy what you do; for this reason, it’s important to make sure that everything you’re doing is positive.

Solution

Train your parrot to be petted on an arm or shoulder but never on the hand so that he can be rewarded in a way that will not unintentionally reinforce biting.


4. Parrots Have Different Personalities, Just Like People

You may see a bird bite a person one day and think that it’s because the animal is aggressive, but maybe the two simply don’t get along. Just like people, parrots have different personalities and interests.

Some birds are not interested in human interaction; others prefer interacting with their same flockmates rather than a new person.

Some parrots really want to be social and show you how much they interact if you give them a chance.

Solution

Try turning your regular routine upside-down once in a while so that your parrot is exposed to different people. It’s also important to give him chances to make his own choices and to exercise his flock instinct; keeping him in a flock with other parrots will benefit both of you!


5. Parrots Bite Out of Frustration

Parrot Bits hand
Image Credit: Brian P Hartnett Jr, Shutterstock

When your bird is biting out of frustration, he may be trying to tell you that something is wrong. For example, if he’s bored, he just wants some attention from you.

Parrots kept in too small of an environment with little or no attention may lash out; they may also bite because something is wrong with their environment, such as a lack of enrichment activities. Biting out of frustration can be a warning sign to watch for!

Solution

Enrich your bird’s environment so that he can engage in his natural behavior. If you notice that your parrot is struggling to adapt, take measures to help him manage his stress and avoid biting.


6. Parrots Bite Themselves

Parrot Bite itself
Image Credit: Hans / 22778, Pixabay

Birds can be very preening animals and may therefore bite their own feathers in order to preen them. Parrots often “self-destruct” when they are stressed or bored, which you should pay attention to if you see it happen.

Certain medical conditions may also cause your parrot to bite himself; research your pet’s symptoms and get advice from an expert if you suspect a medical condition.

Solution

If you notice your pet preening themselves vigorously for extended periods, examine its plumage. If nothing is wrong, but the behavior continues, it may be time to take them to a vet.


7. Parrots Sometimes Bite Because They’re Hungry or Thirsty

If your parrot is biting you out of hunger, offer him food either from his bowl or on a perch. Your bird must always have fresh water available if he isn’t hungry and prefers to bite for fun!


8. Not All Parrots Do Well in Captivity

Although each parrot species has its own set of unique traits, there are a few things that every parrot needs to be happy.

For example, as birds with high energy and intelligence levels, all parrots need plenty of stimulating toys. In addition, most love to chew; they need to have toys they can chew on for as long as they like.

Some species are calmer than others and may be more content with a quieter environment, while other birds need stimulation or become agitated.

Solution

Find out which type of parrot you have by researching the species online (our blog is a good place to start,) reading parrot books, or talking to an avian expert. After you know what type of parrot you have, take some time to research its favorite toys and activities; this way, you can give it a great home right from the start! It’s also important to learn what kind it is right away so that it doesn’t get stressed out from being in an environment that’s too quiet or loud.


9. They Are Playing

Parrot Playing and Biting
Image Credit: Friedrich Himawan, Shutterstock

Sometimes, biting may not be a negative emotion at all! When you’re interacting with your parrot, and they bite, it may be their way of saying that they want to keep playing.

Although this behavior isn’t ideal, it’s important not to overreact; this can make playtime difficult for both of you in the future.

Solution

Do not reinforce playtime biting! If you react to it, your parrot will think that biting is the way they play with you and will continue doing so.

Instead, give him a toy and try not to let him bite for too long; once you notice he’s trying to get your attention by biting you, stop playing with him or leave the room. This way, he’ll learn that you only play when he’s using toys.

divider-birdcage

How Can I Tell If My Parrot Is Going to Bite Me?

There are a few behaviors you should look for that may indicate that your bird is getting ready to chomp down on you.

Pay attention to the way your parrot is looking at you. If he is staring or making eye contact with you directly, he may be trying to tell you something or warning that he might bite (although this depends on his species.)

Watch out for perkiness; if your bird’s tail is going up and down, this may mean that they are about to nip you.

Beware of a “jaw pop,” too; this means that your parrot is trying to open his beak wide to bite you. If you see these signs, it’s best to back away from your bird, so they don’t mistake your movement as a threat.

How Can I Tell My Parrot Has a Biting Problem?

If you’ve gotten to the point of biting and nipping so often that it has almost become normal for both of you, try not to let your parrot continue his behavior unless there is a good reason.

If your pet has a biting problem and you don’t want him to be agitated, he mustn’t bite you while playing or when you are trying to talk to him. By setting limits on his behavior, you can make sure that he is not overstimulated and biting repeatedly. So, if he bites you while you’re playing with him, stop playing; if he bites when you talk to him, don’t talk so much.

Can Every Parrot Stop Biting?

Biting is usually not a problem that goes away quickly. It may go away with time, but it can take a long time to fix the problem (up to a year,) and you should be cautious about how much attention or affection you give your bird during that time. If both of you are frustrated with biting, consider not spending as much time together until he has calmed down and biting has become less of a problem.

Also, note that older parrots may have a more difficult time getting rid of their biting habits since they’ve had the behavior for so long.divider-birdcage

Conclusion

There are many different ways to stop a parrot from biting. By paying attention to why they bite, you can find a solution that works for both of you! If your bird has been biting too much or for no reason at all, talk to an avian expert about ways to fix the problem.

Biting is not something that just goes away on its own, so make sure that you address the problem before it becomes too serious!

To learn more about conures and other wonderful pet birds, visit the rest of our blog and stock up on knowledge!


Featured Image Credit: Tracy Starr, Shutterstock





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